Used To Want…

Posted by on May 4, 2019 in Blog | 2 comments

I used to want another’s talent on the guitar, whats-his-name’s confidence, Joe’s kindness and skill in bringing scared people out of their watchfulness. I coveted qualities in others I couldn’t find in me. Shakespeare miseried over this, saying that with what he did best he was contented least.

Is my little finger jealous of my thumb, or the beauty of the left nostril that it would just love to slide into? Does my ear covet my vision, my eyes the back of my head whose beauty it can only imagine? Does my daunting liver wish it had the power of the adrenals, the beauty of the kidneys, the freedom to run away on world tours like the blood does all the time, while the liver has to stay in one place slogging away day after day for a lifetime?

Do my knees on the church treadle want to be my hands clasped in prayer, or my ankles my hips way up there closer to the action? Does my left cheek write odes of love to the right cheek about wanting to grow a beard someday together? Does my wondering mind have dreams of glory about being inherently sure of itself and issuing orders with authority, where compromise or indecision is punishable by law? How about the pyloric valve wanting to be part of the limbic system making decisions about who gets what when and how much?

Maybe every cell longs to be another and feels jealousy and resentment now and then at being what it is and doing what it does so that others get fed or educated or the big break that will never come its way. Maybe just being the best cell for the job is not enough. Maybe some cells get to talking and decide to try other stuff and because they’re not particularly gifted at other stuff they fail and get depressed and blame one another and start fighting among themselves over whose fault this is, it was stupid to think they could be brain cells or heart cells, they lack the legitimacy, the pedigree, the tradition, the savvy and just inborn talent.

Does the brain wish it was the waves of mind or soul, not based on cells at all but free to wander and wonder and issue commands at will? A seep of nothing with the authority and ability to become something if it feels like it, while the brain stays locked up in a chamber connecting circuits like some damned telephone operator in the old days. There HAS to be a better way. The brain wants to play classical guitar or the French Horn, not just direct the fingers or lips or lungs. It longs to be the feet running free, or the fingers fitted together to make a church and a steeple and there’s all the people. To BE the fingers and not only shuttle the sensations of the fingers to the correct sockets. To be the eyes, and not just interpret the light and dark it mainlines to the brain demanding interpretation and translation into color and meaning, for God’s sakes! 

What if one testicle fell in love with the other and wanted to go steady? How could that be done? Would that make them gay? Does a testicle sometime wish it was a cervical vertebra? Does a clitoris dream about growing up to become a penis, or does the penis long to be streamlined and become a clitoris all pretty and perky on endless auto-fire, never again having to swell to thirty times its coldwater size to go blindly seek a one musket ball glory, and then keel over?

Does the microcosm of our body reflect the macrocosm of our life’s longings?

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Gothic Tina

Posted by on Apr 24, 2019 in Blog | 1 comment

Tina and the tire and the gothic 6/2/07

We are at Rock Lake near the Wisconsin border on Indian land. It’s a back road campsite far and away into the woods.  I came here a few days ago in the rig to write and be alone. Marilyn drove in yesterday with Pebbles. We waded out to where Pebbles stood with a stick in her mouth trying to get what she thinks is a better stick underwater. The stick underwater disappears every time she paws in the water for it and becomes reflective fragments of a stick until the water stills and it becomes whole again. She sees it there when it’s really in her mouth. She figures out that the only way to grab it is to drop the one in her mouth and snatch it up again, that way she will have the stick she already has and the one she longs for.

Marilyn wanders off to talk with some kids and their mother and I go into the Winnebago. In awhile Marilyn pokes her head in to say there is a woman out there with her kids who has a flat tire. Then she’s gone. In this way she has not called me away from my writing, if I have a heart I will do that myself.

When I return two hours later I make these notes in the sweat of the moment to later write in a more structured story, but it never gets any better than these notes:

Tina and the tire and the gothic daughter and the big headed baby and growling son and beautiful little girl and the flat tire and the hydraulic jack and the wide rimmed under inflated spare and the mechanics toolbox and the firewood and the cigarette lighter air compressor and the hand pump and the touch of her hand and the moment of fleeting beauty of the whole mess dancing in perfect synopation at Rock Lake June 29 as the sun settles into the forest across the lake and us huffing and puffing and rolling around on the ground positioning the jack over and over and the car on the slope coming after us when the jack’d fall over and drop the front end on us and the daughter with the cell phone not knowing her dad’s phone number to come get them and her being a dark waif of a 90 pound thing with rings on her fingers and toes and hoops and pins and grommets and washers looped to her sallow skin and glaring black eyes at Tina her mother with the greenish goner eyes all clear and perfectly beautifully empty and the stink of old and deep marijuana sweat from her skinny body as we work and nothing is synching and an hour’s gone and the best part of another and this thing starts to happen and she as a girl long ago awakens and takes over and little by little takes charge and makes the right moves and knows the way and she’s remembering her brothers putting her small hands to work to reach into the places their big hands wouldn’t fit when they rebuilt engines and cars on the Rez 30 years ago and Marilyn is over there with the blazingly white baby in arms now and the black eyed wasp is telling her she can hold him but not to go out of her sight or she is coming after her with a hammer and the growling roaring son in the water with his beautiful little sister half his age splashing her away from him all this is Tina’s and one flat tire and a three hundred dollar Chrysler to take her to work in Hinkley and a too wide too soft spare in the trunk and swimmingly clear eyes and big brothers from long ago with their little sister resurrected now to save her grown up self and get this tire changed.

Tina sits cross legged at the empty wheel hub fitting the spare onto the five threaded bolts like she’s been doing this everyday since way back and the bolts clear the wheel holes without a scrape to the threads and she’s turning the nuts with her fingers with the calm of doing what she’d learned to love in the olden times of her girlhood and she’s tightening them with the spinner wrench turning like a plane prop and when she’s done the little girl of her fades away and I can tell because when Tina starts her old Imperial and gets her kids inside and the big rock we’d put in front of the back wheel is still there and the firewood log on the other side so the big  car won’t move and she tells her gothic daughter to get rid of them and when she can’t and won’t stop cursing her mother Tina gets out and has to think a long time before dropping to her knees and lugging them out looking over her shoulder in my direction as if she needs help. Her gothic daughter is still on her case as they drive away ranting in loops and grommets and piercing stinging nettles.

It’s dark when I go in and Marilyn comes in with the lantern awhile later. How’d it go? I have to smile. What a family! Marilyn says she turned the little growling boy’s trying to drown his sister into a game that earned them lifeguard points when they saved each other.  I taught them to swim, she says. They loved it.

What a woman. Without her I’d’ve missed Tina and her brood. I’d’ve been writing. Yep, Tina and the tire and the gothic daughter and the big headed baby…

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Fred, mother, Chaco, Queen of England etc.

Posted by on Apr 16, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Fred, mother, Chaco, Queen of England etc.

When Fred was with us at Lake Morena up the road from San Diego, he said that our mother was an alcoholic, which was news to me. I said No, she wasn’t, and he looked at me cockeyed, ‘Ja-ack, come on, of course she was and when you grow up with a drunk you run a good chance of becoming one.’

I said, Fre-ed, she drank, she was a party girl but she wasn’t AA material. There are people who drink everyday and still aren’t addicted.

He didn’t know if I was for real on this, it seemed so obvious to him, and for me it was the first I’d heard of this from anyone. So we stared at one another, my mind running fifty years of files on her, him running fifty years of suspecting I was retarded and now finally and forever knowing I was.

I remembered a conversation in this house where they were arguing before dinner about who was smarter. It was just like two kids, No you’re not, I am. You? Ho ho. Both loaded and me with my jaw dropped realizing for the first time that my mother and brother were very dumb people. Here I thought I was the one and they are light years ahead of me. It’d gone beyond ferocity, bulging eyes and stabbing fingers. I walked to her library to look at books as they ranted. Mother had gotten a degree in her fifties at UNM. Now she was yelping about her papers on T-shaped doorways at Chaco published in the Archeology trades, Fred about being Head Reference Librarian at the London Library after graduating from UW at Madison with honors, she about winning the Pulitzer, he the Arthur T. Anderson Award, she about being the first woman president of the US, he about being the King of England.

I’d been a pool cleaner and woodcutter. Once I read a Reader’s Digest cover to cover just to see if I could.

When I’d try to hang out with the two of them before five they were too rattled, and after 5:OO needing a faster delivery than I was capable of. I couldn’t keep their interest with my stories so they’d gang up. Marian finished my sentences, corrected my grammar, facts, place and background and Fred the legitimacy of whatever situation I was talking about. Fred interrupting, saying That’s so naive, Jack, Jesus!

Here I am telling my story that happened with neither my little brother nor mother within two thousand miles of me about meeting this woman at her apartment on Lexington and 46th in New York 2O years before. She’d called me at McGarvey’s and my apartment on the Lower East Side and invited me over, said she knew me but I didn’t know her. She had been watching me for months and now she wanted me to come meet her. ‘She opened the door and I didn’t know her. She was beautiful. (Marion says Of course, and Fred grunts.) ‘She knew me, but I’d never met her’, and Fred is saying how this is either made up, exaggerated and that there is no walkup building at 46th and Lex, and besides how could I not know her if she knew me? And what did I mean by beautiful? What the hell did she look like? And how many women call up perfect strangers and invite them over to their place? You see a movie or something? ‘That’s my point, Fred, it was like a dream, she is this ravishing, open faced woman, deadringer for the young Lauren Hutton, and I felt so at ease with her.’ He shakes his head and looks at Marion and their eyes connect, in silent agreement, Jack’s lying his ass off again!

I say, ‘Her place is beautiful, all candlelit, she even knows what I drink and makes me one without having to ask. The perfume she has on, the white blouse and long skirt, hair just right, and this voice.’ Marion says something about male sex fantasies and safety issues in New York tenements late at night and the clap, and Fred’s cutting me off at every turn trying to trap me in inconsistencies so the spontaneity of the story sputters out. It does sound made up. These people are arguing over who is smarter?! I feel like Einstein and Plato with enough smarts left over to power the Dallas Cowboys and an Emu or two. High IQ does not make smart. Heart makes smart.

Fred is saying our mother was an Alkie and it was all her fault he’s one. I’m still trying to deal with the first part, but there are some things fitting together in spite of my disbelief. How is it possible I wouldn’t’ve noticed at least when I’d grown up? You weren’t there, Jack, he says. Fred is ticking off all the evidence on his fingers and has started back on his first thumb with number 11 in the people’s case against her. I say, Okay, okay, maybe she was, what the hell, she didn’t make you do it. You lived in England for the last quarter century.

I didn’t think of it then but the reason Fred started to drink heavily was for the pain in his leg after he got hit at 7O miles an hour on a country road in Cornwall when he jumped to push his wife out of the way of the car and took the full impact on his legs. They took him to the amputation ward but the surgeons saved the leg. Splinters of bone surfaced through the skin for the rest of his life. He was walking on steel rods where femurs once hung out…

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Helping the World

Posted by on Apr 16, 2019 in Blog | 3 comments

When we get old we begin to look for ways to give back to the world some of what it has given to us, to humanity.

Recently I was wondering how I could do this. A few years ago I was part of a volunteer Habitats For Humanity crew redeeming a house in The Twin Cities, and it felt good. But I rediscovered that I’m not a crew kind of guy, just a short-coming I guess. So I’ve been wondering what I could do solo that fit in with my abilities, and this morning found a way. I’d vacuum the floors in all the world, one by one, personally. By the time I got back to my starting point they’d be needing another vac and I’d start over, probably a lot better at it than when I’d begun.

After thinking it through better I decided that repairing public drinking fountains in town parks might be better in that it’d keep me out in the sun and fresh air, and I’d see children playing and dogs romping and meet other old-timers to chat with while I made with the wrenches and pipe fittings. This thrilled me, it was something I could do very well because at heart I’m a plumber, and I enjoy fixing things so they work again.

I’m starting tomorrow. I am so happy!!

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Who’s Fooling Who?

Posted by on Apr 10, 2019 in Blog | 1 comment

Truth & She-roud of Turin  6/17

Holy as she is Marilyn doesn’t cotton to the idea that she is wrong from time to time. She has a way of reconnecting the dots of an argument to her own advantage. Well, why not? I know when it’s going on but don’t know how to keep from getting tangled up in it. It’s like I crack open an egg and dandelion seeds spill out.

There’s enough right in the general weave to pass for real and because I am not quick enough to multitask at thinking, at least under fire, she usually wins. Not by my being convinced, just by surrendering in playing verbal chess.  Or shooting verbal craps:  Snake eyes, I win! She says. I say, What? You were trying for a six, and got two. She says, Snake Eyes beats a full house! Hold on, I say, you’re mixing poker with dice, and Marilyn explains to me it depends on the game you’re playing, and I say Where’s the cards? And she says, You didn’t take them out, that’s why I win.

The Catholic Church decided once and for all to prove the Shroud of Turin was a fake. American scientists had examined it and in the end could not decide what made the image. They knew it wasn’t paint or pigment of any sort they were familiar with. They weren’t trying to prove it was the burial cloth of Jesus; they wanted to know empirically what left the negative image of the man buried in it, whoever he was. An explosion of intense light seemed to be the only possibility they could come up with after several years of study.

This team and some others kept after the Vatican to take samples of the shroud to get a Carbon 14 reading on them and suggested they be taken from different areas, from the inner older fabric as well as the rewoven outer margins damaged in fires. The church refused to take samples from anywhere near the figure on the cloth claiming it to be too threatening to the integrity of the image. At the same time they were claiming it was not Christ’s image.  They ended up taking three samples from the outer margins and sent them off to labs in different countries. All came back with a date from the fourteenth century, and the church considered the matter closed: Shroud of Turin is a fake: Over and out.

But they didn’t count on the Knowing. The Knowing is the cumulative memory bank all life has contributed to, a trans-cultural, trans-species hard drive of collective truth. Deep down we all feel the force of truth, and no man-made legerdemain can fool us. Our sense and senses you can be sure, but not the Hayseed deep within us sitting on the fence sucking on a stem of grass. His gristle is our core being. He knows.

So the church’s findings only made many hungry to know more, to have the image itself sampled in several places. If it was the fake the Church said, then what was there to protect by testing the image itself?

The Church replied that there would be no more tests, too many people were worshipping this thing, it was idolatry, no one in the Catholic church practiced idolatry; well, maybe a little, like the icons in any cathedral, but that’s traditional, this isn’t, this is too mystical and no one in the Church likes mystical. Except a few legends and stories and some history and ancient reports of weird things, but again these are grandfathered in. Christ’s burial cloth is not.

It was a solid argument. Who can argue with that? Ignore the Shroud and people will no longer worship idols. Case closed. Two Snake eyes beats a full house.

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Posted by on Apr 4, 2019 in Blog | 1 comment

‘Be Kind & Amazing Things Will Happen’

I saw this sign driving past a church on the way home. I’d been out to where we park the RV by Ham Lake to see if I could find some missing things in there, keys, computer tablet, hope, some other stuff. Didn’t find any of it but on the way back through a neighborhood near Egret this message jumped out into the corner of my eye and wormed its way quickly into my heart, a distance of maybe 9 inches, though the way it bit in you’d’ve thought it had meteored to earth from the fifth dimension.

I started laughing a block or two later, not at the message but because of some sort of resonating going on. Some pastor had fitted those black block letters into their grooves in the sign box to advertise his next sermon, dusted off his hands, closed the glass door and locked it so no one could mess around making a new message with the letters. Done this 100 times, and then some guy drives by and glimpses the message and is spiritually transformed two blocks later.

Into what?  Dunno. The domino blocks are still clickity-clickitying in my heart, but the gist of it is that if we’d just be here and have the time to really see the lads and lasses and woofers and cats and birds and trees and flowers and the mighty miracle of it all…if we’d really be here we could skip his sermon this Sunday and reinvent our own religion on the saved time. We could make our own sign to put out front of us: We are Love. Let it show.

So what amazing things would happen? Dunno, but really starting to be alive might be a good start. I’ll get back to you on how this plays out for this member of the congregation, though.

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